Q. I am an employed physician who is preparing to leave the large practice where I work. Am I responsible for sending letters to my patients about my move, or is the practice responsible?
A. Texas Medical Board (TMB) regulations say a physician leaving a group must notify his or her patients through:
- A notice in the newspaper of greatest general circulation in each county in which the physician practices or practiced, and in a local newspaper that serves the immediate practice area,
- A written notice in the physician's office, and
- Letters sent to patients the physician has seen in the last two years, notifying them of discontinuance of practice.
TMB holds the departing physician responsible for notifying his or her patients. Even if the group you are leaving agrees to send the letters (something to which you are not required to agree), you remain responsible. If the group is negligent in the notice it provides (e.g., it lacks an element TMB thinks is important, directs the patient to the wrong address, or goes out past deadline) or reneges on sending the notice entirely, then you may have a cause of action against the practice for negligence - but still you are responsible and may be sanctioned.
If you or your practice is currently in a dispute regarding notice to patients, this complex circumstance may require advice from your personal counsel.
TMA's Office of General Counsel has written a white paper that examines the details of the TMB regulations regarding notice to patients on the departure of a physician.
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